Microbial Systems Initiative

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  • Researcher Spotlight | Nicholas Wu, PhD

    Dr. Nicholas Wu is an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry. His long-term research interests focus on the driving forces and functional constraints of virus evolution, using multidisciplinary approaches involving molecular virology, evolutionary biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and structural biology. In his researcher spotlight, Dr. Wu discusses his research journey and his current research projects related to COVID-19. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Christopher Gaulke, PhD

    Christopher Gaulke is an assistant professor in the Department of Pathobiology. Dr. Gaulke’s lab uses diverse molecular, bioinformatic, and statistical tools to define the biochemical mechanisms through which gut microbiota modulate the effects of nutritional, infectious, and chemical exposures on vertebrate physiology. The Gaulke lab leverages this knowledge to develop methods to mitigate the impact of these exposures on human and animal health by manipulating the microbiome and characterizing microbial natural products. In his researcher spotlight, Dr. Gaulke discusses how Illinois supports his research and how scientists can work to address current societal challenges. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Jacob Allen, PhD

    Dr. Jacob Allen is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health. His research program at Illinois concentrates on specific environmental interventions and conditions — 1. Exercise 2. Psychological Stress and 3. Diet — that influence gut microbial communities and metabolite production during both homeostatic and pathological disease states. In his researcher spotlight, Dr. Allen discusses how Illinois' collaborative atmosphere has allowed his research to flourish and the importance of improving science communications and outreach. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Pamela Martinez, PhD

    Dr. Pamela Martinez is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and the Department of Statistics. Her research lies at the intersection of ecology and the evolution of microorganisms to better understand how immunological and evolutionary processes influence the emergence and maintenance of pathogen diversity. In her researcher spotlight, Dr. Martinez discusses her research journey and how she has aided in efforts to address the effects of COVID-19. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Shulei Wang, PhD

    Dr. Shulei Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics. His research interest is to develop novel statistical methodology and scalable computational tools to analyze large-scale and complex biomedical data, with a goal of providing insight into complex biological systems. Dr. Wang’s past research primarily strives to apply rigorous statistical thinking to developing methods to solve problems arising from the analysis of the human microbiome and microscopic imaging data. In his researcher spotlight, Dr. Wang discusses his research journey and how the culture of campus supports his research. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Rachel Whitaker, PhD

    Rachel J Whitaker is a Professor of Microbiology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Dr. Whitaker also leads the Infection Genomics for One Health research theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). Her large research group investigates the dynamics of microbes and their viruses using a combination of genomics, experimental evolution, modeling, and molecular biology. In her researcher spotlight, Dr. Whitaker discusses her research journey and her current work on campus.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Rebecca Batstone, MSc, PhD

    Learn more about Rebecca Batstone, MSc, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow for the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). Her work in the lab has specifically focused on analyzing data from a large-scale genome-wide association study, as well as conducting her own experimental evolution study to uncover the genetic underpinnings of how nitrogen (N)-fixing bacteria, also known as rhizobia, adapt to long term N-fertilized conditions. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Leila Shinn, MS, RDN, FAND

    Learn more about Leila Shinn, MS, RDN, FAND, third-year PhD candidate in Dr. Hannah Holscher's Nutrition and Human Microbiome Laboratory in the Division of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Enivronmental Sciences. Her dissertation research focuses on the impact of diet on the gastrointestinal microbiota, metagenome, and metabolome, with a goal of creating personalized microbiota-tailored dietary recommendations. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Danielle Campbell, Recent Graduate

    Learn more about Danielle Campbell, recent graduate from the Department of Microbiology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Dr. Campbell's graduate work at Illinois focused on combining molecular and computational biology to study phages and other mobile genetic elements carried by the prominent human gut symbiont Bacteroides. She is interested in understanding how mobile genetic elements can have cascading effects on bacterial hosts, the gut microbiome, and human-microbiome interactions.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Pooja Agashe, PhD Candidate

    Learn more about Pooja Agashe, PhD candidate in the Department of Microbiology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Pooja’s graduate work at Illinois is focused on mechanisms of DNA damage and repair in E. coli and investigating the synergistic lethality of nitric oxide with hydrogen peroxide.

  • Researcher Spotlight | New Faculty Welcome

    Learn more about new faculty in the Departments of Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Kinesiology and Community Health, Microbiology, Pathobiology, and Statistics.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Collin Kieffer, PhD

    Learn more about Collin Kieffer, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology in the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology. Research in the Kieffer Lab is focused on understanding the complex interplay that occurs between pathogens and the immune system during infection within the body.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Ting Lu, PhD

    Learn more about Ting Lu, Ph.D., associate professor of biophysics in the Department of Bioengineering. Research in the Lu Research Lab is primarily focused on the analysis, modeling, and construction of bacterial gene circuits for uncovering biological design principles and advancing biotechnological applications.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Chris Brooke, PhD

    Learn more about Christopher Brooke, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Research in the Brooke Lab is primarily focused on understanding how heterogeneity and collective interactions within influenza virus populations influence broader patterns of viral evolution and infection outcome.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Jennifer M. Reinhart, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVCP

    Learn more about Jennifer M. Reinhart, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVCP, assistant professor of small animal internal medicine in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. She received her D.V.M. from the University of Illinois in 2010 and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. She is double boarded in veterinary internal medicine and veterinary clinical pharmacology. Dr. Reinhart’s research focuses on endocrine diseases of dogs and cats and improved use of therapeutics across veterinary species.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Jeffrey Woods, PhD

    Learn more about Jeffrey Woods, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, Director of the Center on Health, Aging, and Disability, and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Applied Health Sciences. Research in Prof. Wood's laboratory focuses on the effects of exercise on the immune system, the gut microbiome, and aging. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Jason Ridlon, PhD

    Learn more about Jason Ridlon, Ph.D., assistant professor of gut microbiology in the Department of Animal Sciences. He is helping find treatment strategies to improve human health and animal well-being. He studies gut microbiology, specifically the biochemistry and molecular biology of steroid and bile acid biotransformations by the gut microbiota. He is trying to understand how microbial metabolites promote gastrointestinal tract diseases such as liver and colorectal cancers, as well as essential hypertension. Learn more about Professor Ridlon's research and what motivates his interest in this area.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Katy Heath, Ph.D.

    Learn more about Katy Heath, Ph.D., an associate professor of plant biology and member of the Center for the Physics of Living Cells. Research in Prof. Heath's laboratory focuses on the evolution of mutualisms, which are most generally defined as species interactions that increase the fitness of both (or all) partners. She takes a multidisciplinary approach and uses diverse methods from the fields of quantitative genetics, population genetics, molecular biology, and ecology, to understand multiple aspects of mutualism evolution.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Seppe Kuehn, Ph.D.

    Learn more about Seppe Kuehn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of physics and member of the Center for the Physics of Living Cells. Research in Prof. Keuhn's laboratory, is directed towards understanding the fundamental principles governing dynamics in complex biological systems at two levels of organization. First, his lab uses model microbial ecosystems to study stability, adaptation and function of microbial communities. Second, they study the structure of the map between genotypes and phenotypes in model microbial systems to discover the rule of adaptive evolution. 

  • Researcher Spotlight | Hannah Holscher, PhD, RD

    Learn more about Hannah Holscher, Ph.D., R.D., an assistant professor of nutrition in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Research in Prof. Holscher’s laboratory, the Nutrition and Human Microbiome Laboratory, integrates the areas of nutrition, gastrointestinal physiology, and the microbiome. Her research focuses on the clinical application of nutritional sciences with an overarching goal of improving human health through dietary modulation of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD

    Learn more about Sharon Donovan, Ph.D., R.D., professor and Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health. Her laboratory conducts basic and translational research in the area of pediatric nutrition. On-going work in the lab focuses on optimizing intestinal and cognitive development of neonates, development of the gut microbiome, prevention of childhood obesity, and picky eating in children. Learn more about Professor Donovan's research and what motivates her interest in this area.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Stephen Boppart, MD, PhD

    Learn more about Stephen Boppart, M.D., Ph.D., an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering. His research focuses on developing novel optical imaging technologies and translating these into clinical use. Learn more about Professor Boppart's research and what motivates his interest in this area.

  • Researcher Spotlight | Shannon Sirk, PhD

    Learn more about Shannon Sirk, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering, the Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Her research focuses on engineering beneficial traits into commensal microorganisms for therapeutic applications. Learn more about Professor Sirk’s research and what motivates her interest in this area.